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Date: 11/21/2017
Emily Wojcik

"We pored over several more boxes, then I followed her into a windowless chilled room lined with open metal trays that pulled out of the wall, like trays at a bakery. Instead of pastries, the trays held dozens of 'skins'—birds preserved for study, their soft organs removed. To say that my spirit lifted might sound odd, but the beauty of the dead can awe as much as the living."
—from Keepers of the Ghost Bird (Working Title 2.4 Setpember/October 2017)

What were the influences behind writing this piece?
It was my first trip to Bermuda, and I was riding in a taxi van driven by an exuberant woman named Foxie. At the time, I had chronic pain, and was looking for something to do while my husband (I was married back then), was working...

Date: 11/15/2017
Amal Zamam

On the 1st of October, a gunman using a series of semiautomatic rifles modified, legally, to fire like machine guns, killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others in what is now being called America’s deadliest mass shooting. When lawmakers once again pleaded for stricter gun control measures, the White House responded that it was wrong to politicize tragedy. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called any discussion of such legislation “premature”. “There's a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country,” Sanders said.

At the end of the same month, on my favorite day of the year, the 31st of October, a New Jersey truck driver mowed down 8 people...

Date: 11/13/2017
Kira Archibald

After the third bite
Adam found himself suspended
between two cities and understood them to be parched
by the contagion of time. . .

—from "Cosmogeny of Shame," by Filippo Naitana, translated from Italian by Ann Lauinger (Fall 2017, Vol. 58, Issue 3)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you translated.
The first thing I translated, long before I had any idea of wanting to write poetry myself, was a short ode by the Latin poet Horace. Not a great success!

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
Probably Ben Jonson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and W. H. Auden are the poets who’ve gotten most under my skin.

What other professions have you worked in?

Date: 11/08/2017
Kira Archibald

Dopo il terzo morso
Adamo si trovò sospeso
fra due città, e le seppe arse
dal contagio del tempo. . . . 
—from "Cosmogonia del pudore," Fall 2017 (Volume 58, Issue 3)
What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
Because this is my first published poem, I’ll simply blush and mention some of the authors I keep coming back to: Alda Merini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Billy Collins and Vijay Seshadri. 
What other professions have you worked in?
The one profession to which I have been truly committed is that of teacher and scholar. But I have also worked as a grape picker and tended bar. Throughout my undergraduate years in Florence, I was a day-laborer assistant to roadies,...
Date: 11/03/2017
Teresa Solana

The Spanish Civil Guard blocks voters outside a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain (photo source Reuters).

I am a Catalan writer, and have lived in the United Kingdom for the last three years. I was born in Barcelona, where I spent most of my previous life. When Franco died, I was thirteen.

When I was a child, they used to tell us at school that Franco had led the glorious national uprising against the (legitimate) government of the Republic in order to save Spain. That, thanks to Franco, law and order, endangered by (democratically elected) republican politicians had been re-established in Spain. Nothing unusual there. Dictators don’t usually go around saying, “Right, as I don’t like what citizens have voted for, I’ll destroy democracy and...

Date: 11/02/2017
Katherine Keenan

Girl, World by Alex Poppe (Laughing Fire Press, 2017)

For better or for worse, “feminism” is in fashion. Spunky shirts proclaiming feminist slogans have become mass-market staples, allowing anyone (who can afford it) to “try on” feminism in a dressing room. Celebrity feminists tweet one-line proclamations to show their support of the movement—while generally directing their activism toward a palatable, majority-defined “woman”: often white, often cis-gendered, often able-bodied, often American. This sleek, whitewashed, marketable version of feminism is having its heyday while—beyond the $16.99 Feminist Distressed Graphic Tee—immigrant women...

Date: 10/31/2017
Kira Archibald

"Egress: how does it work with the Virgin? Can we ask her for anything? Must we be on our knees? What must we say and how many times? For how much time must we stay? Should we look at her directly? Does it not work if we ask before we thank? Does she work with the faithless and the wavering? Is there a limit to the span of the miracle? Can bodies be transformed? Can a thought be transfixed?" — from "Pilgrimage," Fall 2017 (Volume 58, Issue 3)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.

I started writing very young. In fact, I had one of my first poems published when I was eight years old in an anthology of childrens’ poetry. Honestly, it was not a good poem. I started taking writing more seriously in high school, and I’ve never looked back. I was about fifteen when I started to try to...

Date: 10/25/2017
Kira Archibald

"Dawn ices the sky and drives back the stars. It took the entire night to complete his ascension: moving gear onto the platform—sleeping bag, ropes and harness, water, a little food, the brush and paint cans—using the torch to cut free the billboard’s decrepit ladder as he climbed, leaving the seventy-foot column smooth as an obelisk. He hasn’t brought books. The historical library at the university has its own impressive collection, and he found an ally in the librarian covering the late shift who would order anything that fed his wandering interests. His janitorial duties took at most a few hours each night. Even the graffiti could not slow him [“you are loved,” his current favorite: “spacehorsespacehorsespacehorse”]." —from "Antioch," published in Fall 2017 (Volume 58, Issue 3)

Tell us about one of the first pieces...

Date: 10/20/2017
Alexandra Keller

Editor’s Note: This post inaugurates a new MR blog series, where we share online introductions given at guest appearances by some of our favorite speakers, writers, artists, and thinkers. Intros are, by definition, ephemeral, but that doesn’t mean they always should be. You’ve all heard great ones, the sort that don’t try to one-up the main event, yet somehow quickly manage to inform, evoke, and celebrate the person you’ve come to hear. With “The Next Best Thing,” of course, you’ll just be reading; you’ll have to wait for another occasion for actual star-gazing. But at least you’ll know who to come out and see, the next time they’re in town.


Date: 10/17/2017
Kira Archibald

"I have a persistent fear of being a strange person in a normal world. I know this fear is not uncommon. The worl—and I along with it—hopes to be normal, someday. Sometimes, though, it is better not to hope for this. The world has a long history of being strange and surprising, and in difficult times it is useful to think that this strangeness itself can be a resource." —from "Marvelous Things Heard: On Finding Historical Radiance" (Fall 2017, Vol. 58, Issue 3)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
This is a hard question to answer. It brings up memories of that uneven little-kid thick-pencil printing, with half the letters backwards, and a story I wrote about a dinosaur—I folded the pages carefully and tied them together with...